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Italian man tries to dodge COVID-19 jab using fake arm

Italian man tries to dodge COVID-19 jab using fake arm

A health worker shows the media how she prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to a patient at a vaccination center set up in front of Rome's Termini central station on Mar 8, 2021. (Photo: AP/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME: An Italian man who wanted a coronavirus vaccine certificate without actually having the jab tried to play the system by presenting health workers with a fake arm, an official said on Friday (Dec 3).

Despite the realistic skin colour, nobody was fooled by the silicone limb, and the man - in his 50s - was reported to local police following the incident on Thursday night in Biella, northwest Italy.

According to the BBC, the man showed up with a silicone mould covering his real arm. A nurse told local media that when she rolled up his sleeve, she found the skin "rubbery and cold" and the pigment "too light".

Citing la Repubblica, the BBC report added that the man tried to persuade the nurse to turn a blind eye after being discovered. But she reported him to the police for fraud.

"The case borders on the ridiculous, if it were not for the fact we are talking about a gesture of enormous gravity," the head of the Piedmont regional government, Albert Cirio, said in a statement on Facebook.

He said such an act was "unacceptable faced with the sacrifice that our entire community has paid during the pandemic, in terms of human lives, the social and economic cost".

The fake arm incident comes ahead of a tightening of the rules Monday in Italy for people who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Since August, a "Green Pass" showing proof of vaccination, recent recovery from coronavirus or a negative test has been required for indoor dining in restaurants, to visit museums, cinemas, theatres and attend sporting events.

But from Dec 6, these activities will be restricted to holders of a "Super Green Pass", which is only available to those who have been vaccinated or recently had COVID-19.

The old Green Pass was extended in October to cover all workplaces, and remains valid for this purpose, meaning the unvaccinated can still go to work by showing a recent negative test.

The new restrictions - the subject of small protests in city centres across Italy on most weekends - were introduced following an increase in COVID-19 cases, exacerbated in recent days by fears over the new variant Omicron.

Italy was the first European country to be hit by the pandemic in early 2020, but is currently faring better than many of its neighbours.

On Thursday, 16,800 new cases were reported in the previous 24 hours, with 72 deaths.

Almost 85 per cent of the eligible population (aged over 12) are already fully vaccinated, and this week the option of a booster dose was extended to all adults.

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Source: AGENCIES/jt

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